Friday, July 30, 2010

Little Did I Know

See the ice cream truck? See the golf cart behind the ice cream truck?

That would be Hubby and Teen Angel chasing down the ice cream man. He usually visits on Thursday afternoons before I get home from work. My peeps usually mention that he came by, and I see them eat a few treats here and there. I don't pay any attention because I don't eat ice cream on a regular basis. Last week, they missed the truck, and they acted like the world was about to end.
Last night, the truck came AFTER I got home, and his visit triggered a flurry of excitement. Teen Angel went running for money. I handed her a $5 bill, and she said, "Uh, that's not gonna be enough."
"Well, here's a $10, get one for grandma and grandaddy, too."
"Um, that's still not gonna be enough."
"Never mind."
Off she scooted on the golf cart to pick up Hubby who was up the street at Mama J.'s and Papa T.'s. A couple of minutes later, they came zipping back up the driveway with Hubby hollering for me to get his wallet. They drove up the street to the truck, which was sidelined at the first house on the block.
They were gone. They were gone for a while. Like fifteen minutes gone. When they came back, they were loaded down with a sack of goodies.
Look at that bag on his lap.

And someone may or may not have made a rude gesture toward me when he caught me taking his picture with the mother load of Nutty Buddies and Push-Ups. And Dora bars. And Sponge Bob bars.

It seems two of the Hula-gen's are on very good terms with the ice cream man. As in he waited in front of the wrong house last week, looking for them, so as not to miss a good sale. Suspecting that Thursday afternoons with the ice cream man are a bigger deal then they've let on all summer, I asked Teen Angel just how much they spend each week at the ice cream truck. Her reply through cold teeth?
"I'm not allowed to divulge that information."

Thursday, July 29, 2010

This Post is Gonna be all Over the Place

‘Cause I can’t seem to find the time to put together anything focused and coherent. Where has this week gone? Whew! And has anyone seen my sunglasses?

Teen Angel registered for school yesterday. Yesterday! Her first day of classes is one week away. I can’t believe her summer vacation is already over. We kept saying we were going to do a little one day trip before school started, and now we’re almost out of time. The three of us are headed to the local water park tomorrow to have at least one day of funshine together. TA and BFF will likely slide down tall stuff while Hubby and I tube it in the lazy river. If I could just get that park to sell margaritas and put cup holders on their tubes, I’d be happy as a pig in mud.

I’m taking a day off of work next week to go shopping with TA for school clothes. I think we’ll head north about an hour to a university town, so we can cruise a “big campus” while we have the time. We need to start looking at some schools, so we can make some decisions soon about TA’s college plans. I know this year is going to fly, and before we know it she’ll be walking across the graduation stage. That means college applications, scholarship aps and all sorts of other paperwork will have to be filled out in the coming months, and it makes my head spin just thinking about it.

When she was gone on the mission trip last week, Hubby and I got our first taste of empty nest syndrome, and I’ll just go ahead and admit right now that it didn’t feel very good. I’m sure we’ll muddle through the real thing when the time comes, but we are NOT looking forward to her being gone all of the time. We’ll be excited for this next chapter in her life, but honestly, it’s gonna squeeze my heart like a box of Krispy Kreme’s. Oddly enough, she was homesick by the end of her week away from home. That’s never happened. Always before, she flitted out the door without a second thought and enjoyed whatever camp or trip she was taking. This time was different. She openly admitted that she missed her family, her bed and her friends. I think the significance of this year is starting to dawn on her, too.

The heat and humidity around here have just been miserable for weeks. The heat index rises past 100 degrees regularly, leading people to say things like, “It’s hotter than a $2 pistol,” “It’s hotter ‘n Guam” and my personal favorite, “I’m sweatin’ like a whore in Sunday school.” This has been the hottest, driest summer we’ve had in a long time, but I’m not complaining. All I have to do is close my eyes and think about the ice storm for a few seconds, and I suddenly decide that summer heat is not such a bad thing. It does make running in the middle of the day miserable, though. I already wake up at 5:30am, and I just can’t make myself get up any earlier to run before dawn. After work is out of the question because I’m busy trying to get everyone fed and supplied with clean clothes when I get home, so I’m stuck with running at lunch. Man, it’s brutal. I take walking breaks after each mile and listen to my body for cues that I’m getting too hot. I push on through the run, but my running is more like trotting right now, and most of the time I don’t even pay attention to my pace. I’d rather be slow than pass out in the street. And let’s just say some of my exercise clothes are going to have to be laid to rest after this season. You know it’s bad when you can smell yourself.

The same goes for Hubby. Some days he changes shorts and t-shirts as many as three times while doing yard work. Some of his shirts we’ve actually thrown away instead of washing because they were so sweat stained, and even the sports laundry soap couldn’t kill that funk. We’ve learned to buy the 5 for $10 t-shirts at Wal-greens each spring to keep him adequately supplied. It’s so hot around here that ANY clothing, not matter how skimpy or thin, seems hot. I think we could all go naked and no one would really care right now.

We are spending a fortune watering the yard and garden. Nothing like trying to keep new landscaping alive. So far, nothing but grass had died, and the tomato plants are producing like crazy. Everyone who comes near us gets a bag of tomatoes forced upon him (sorry Janjanmom) whether he wants it or not. One of these days I’ll get around to taking some pictures of the plants. One is thirteen feet tall!

Speaking of pictures, I took some engagement pictures last night for a young couple who are getting married in October. I haven’t had that much fun since the hogs ate my little sister. They were super sweet and just as cute as can be. Fortunately, they didn’t seem to mind when I asked them to do things like kiss in the middle of a downtown street or pose like a mannequin in a store window. If they don’t mind, I’ll post some pictures later. We’ll be doing bridal pictures at an historic home in one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods next month. I can’t wait. The homeowners have an antique baby grand piano, a Victorian sofa and joy of all joys, a claw foot bathtub. It makes me giddy just thinking about the photo ops.

I should sign off and get busy as I have clothes to wash and pictures to crop. However, I will leave you with this final quote from the late great Lew Grizzard, which seems appropriate for the heatwave:

"In the south there's a difference between 'Naked' and 'Nekkid.' 'Naked' means you don't have any clothes on. Nekkid' means you don't have any clothes on ... and you're up to somethin!"

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Strains of Iggy Popp Were Drifting Through My Ears

The fair came to town recently. There were lots of bright lights, loud noises and spinning things. I hate spinning things. They make me throw up. So do buses. If you don’t believe me ask my family about a certain incident in Martinique involving something called Zig Zag Road. My puking is now legend among a certain group of tourists who visited there in July of 2003.

Anyway, I hate spinning things if I’m on them. I like them when it comes to taking their picture. Between the lights and the motion and the outlandish people, the fair was a photography feast. I could have started a website that would have rivaled People of Wal-Mart with pictures from there. As it was, I stuck to the lights and rides.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Hot on the Trail

A professional photography buddy of mine asked me to help shoot pictures Saturday at a kids’ triathlon because he needed the extra help. Even though the heat index was 105 degrees, I said yes because, well, I’ll shoot anything that moves. Or doesn’t. Plus, I needed the practice.

I had a blast and came away with a great deal of respect for those kids, especially the little girl who moved so fast I didn’t notice her prosthetic leg until the third time I reviewed the pictures. And the little boy who gritted his teeth and told me in no uncertain terms, “I AM NOT LEAVING THE TRAIL!” when I tried to get him in the shade because he was obviously struggling with the heat.

It was fun, fun, fun, and the whole time two thoughts kept running through my head: Kids definitely move faster than 46-year old women, and Great Gertie, it’s hot out here!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I Can Hardly Talk About It

When I left Mama J.'s and Papa T.'s house the other night I had a few minutes so I thought I'd drive up the road and check on the status of my sunflower fields. When I say "my" sunflower fields I really mean the fields in the nearby wildlife refuge which were sown in sunflower seeds last year to attract doves. The blooms were spectacular. There were thousands and thousands of sunflowers as far as you could see.

I spent so much time in them I claimed them for my own. If you remember, I discovered them by accident and walked in them.

Sat in them.

Laid on the ground among them and rolled around.
They delighted me to no end, and I've been looking forward to seeing them again this year and snapping some more photos. I've been so excited about them Hubby even planted some in our backyard recently because they seem to make me happy, and you know the sayin', "If mama ain't happy nobody's happy."

Back to the other night. I zipped down the road with my eyes peeled and spotted lots of green foliage as I neared the place where I usually pull off the road. I started smiling, but the closer I got the less I smiled. Could it be? Surely not. I couldn't believe my eyes. I knew it to be so, but I didn't want to believe it. I got out of the truck and took a closer look just to be sure. What did I find? Corn! Rows and rows of stinkin' corn. Seriously? Corn??!!!! I looked around for someone to yell at, came up empty and hauled myself back into the truck. I drove several yards to the next field, hoping for something better. Nope. Not there. More dadgum corn. I even tried another field in the refuge that had nothing planted in it last year in the hopes that maybe they rotated their crops. More stinkin' corn. I drove home without even turning on the radio.

I can't believe it. I haven't been this disappointed since 1981 when mama wouldn't let me go to the Joan Jett concert because it was a school night. If I were a conservative I'd blame the liberal media. If I were a liberal I'd blame the Tea Party. As it is, I'll just sulk. If anyone needs me I'll be on the chaise with a lily on my chest.

Corn! Really???

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Lessons From Afar

The youth group continued their mission work in Georgia today with a shift at a local soup kitchen. They had breakfast around 6:45 this morning and got to the soup kitchen early so they could make sandwiches and prepare for the lunch crowd. Teen Angel had a good time. Of course, she always has a good time when she’s feeding people.

She met some sweet ladies working there, one of whom reminded her of May from The Secret Life of Bees.

And if you don’t know who May is, you should run out right now, pick up that book and read it. Weepy, sweet chick book all the way and a very pleasant read. Don't just watch the movie! May is a character who more than makes up in love for what she lacks in knowledge.

Despite TA’s quips about the shelter, I could tell she was affected by what she experienced today. She talked of the way people lined up early for the meal and begged for food and water when staff came and went. And how they had to lock the doors when they went in and out before the meals because people tried to barge in. She came face to face with poverty, desperation and mental illness today. She also experienced the love and generosity of people who provide nourishment and comfort to those who struggle with life’s basic needs. It was good for her, whether she admits it or not. I knew it would be, and that’s why I pushed her into going on this trip. While the Hula-gen’s are not financially comfortable by any means, TA has always had a nice home, plenty to eat and her share of iPods and name brand clothes. I have to work pretty hard at helping her to understand what it’s like to go to bed hungry or have your electricity turned off. She gets really tired of me saying, “See what happens when you don’t get an education,” or “Just see how lucky you are?”

It hit me today though, that this week has been a lesson for me, too. I sometimes work so hard at teaching her lessons that I forget that I could be learning, too. Relying only on her texts and pictures and the occasional phone call, I’ve been forced to see this experience through her eyes. It gives me a glimpse into her thought process and ideas about the issues of poverty and loving thy neighbor. It challenges my ideas and makes me think about my own attitudes. It occurred to me last night that I am gaining more from her witty texts than a laugh or reassurance that she is okay while away from home.

And as if to reinforce that, I came upon this quote today: “If I am ready to learn anyone can be my teacher.”
I reflected upon that for a while at lunch and considered whether I truly learn from those around me or only those I single out as the “smartest” or “best educated”. The truth is I sometimes don’t. I’m often so intent on convincing someone else that my idea is the best or my opinion is the most accurate that I don’t hear what someone else is saying. (Insert smack to the forehead here.) I just don’t always know when to sit down, shut up and listen. Thankfully, Teen Angel is getting a healthy dose of that this week from the May’s of the world, a former drug dealer and some folks in need. I didn’t travel with her on this trip because I always chaperon, and I thought she needed the independence this time. It seems I got to go anyway.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Day 2 of the Mission Trip-Building A Reef

Can I just say it does my heart good to see my sometimes sloth like teenager sweatin' her hiney off while shoveling oyster shells? I get to use all of those parental nuggets like, "Hard work is good for you," and "It builds character." Or how about, "When I was your age I had to shovel oyster shells barefoot, in the snow, uphill, both ways?" Sigh. It just warms my heart to see her work. Of course, that has nothing to do with all of those mornings during summer vacation when she got to sleep in, and I had to be at work at 7am.
Teen Angel

Another youth group member

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Notes From Our East Coast Correspondent

Teen Angel is in Georgia this week with the church youth group on a mission trip. They arrived last night at Epworth by the Sea, a Methodist retreat of sorts that hosts groups doing local mission work. While the kids are there, they will be doing everything from working in a soup kitchen to teaching young children at a Boys and Girls Club.

Teen Angel signed up to go several months ago and then started to weasel out on me a couple of weeks before time to leave. I think it had something to do with spending a week away from a certain boy and from her beloved job at the bakery. I big footed her into going under Parental Clauses # 6-Because it's good for you and #1-Because I said so. A few days before she left, she broke up with the boyfriend, and suddenly Georgia seemed like a much more appealing place to her. She stopped whining about it and got her bags packed. We loaded her up on a bus yesterday morning and by nightfall she and the youth group had made their way to the Georgia coast passing by many a boiled peanut/velvet painting/Dixie memorabilia stand. One of which prompted a text exchange between me and her where I jokingly told her to pick me up a Nascar toilet seat and she informed me they were out of those but that they had some with a rebel flag on them. And she was telling the truth. Oy vey! I can't even begin to describe how many ways THAT item is offensive.

It was just one of many chatty, witty texts we've exchanged in the past couple of days. That girl is quite sarcastic when she wants to be, a trait she obviously gets from her dad. Goodness knows she doesn't get it from me. Ahem.

For example: She informed me their bunkhouse looked like the 70's threw up. I told her it was a camp not the Hilton and that I didn't want to hear any complaints as she could smell the ocean and I couldn't. She replied that all she could smell was the neighbors' laundry drying on the clothesline. See what I mean? Sarcastic.

In the midst of all the jokes and teasing she shared details of their day today. They cleaned the yard of a woman who is wheelchair bound with Multiple Sclerosis, and TA talked about how fun the lady was. They met a man who used to be a drug lord in Miami. He served thirteen years in prison, got out and turned his life around. And then they helped to gather up excess produce at stores and restaurants and bagged it up and delivered it to residents of some very poor neighborhoods. The pictures of her and BFF are from TA's phone and BFF's mom. Who's that behind those Foster Grants?

They had a great time, and the youth minister says he didn't hear one complaint from a single teen today despite the heat and the hard work. I can tell TA's been touched by what she's seen so far, and they still have the rest of the week ahead of them. I'm glad. THAT falls under Parental Clause #12-One day she'll thank me for this.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Things Hula Loves

Fresh blackberries, handpicked from the fence rows of my friend's house. The bushes run along the borders of her thirty acres, and they are dripping with wild blackberries right now. With the help of her and her two young sons (and a dog that kept eating out of my bucket), I picked about two gallons of them Saturday night. I'm thinkin' scones, a cobbler and maybe a little jam. Some of these are headed for the freezer, so I can whip out a juicy little reminder of summer during the winter months.

The best part? I came home from pickin' without any chigger bites. Can I get an amen on THAT?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

iheartfaces Photography Challenge-"Over My Head"

From a Jimmy Buffett concert last year. Can you see the smoke in the volcano?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Vacation Bible School Wrap-up

Whew! What a week. A good one, but now I need a nap. Meet some of my friends.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hula's Photo of the Week-"The Goose"

I like this one because it reminds me of an old postcard. It also whispers "serenity" to me, which I'm in great need of on this fourth day of wrangling children. They are fun and cute and I love 'em, but Lordy, they make me feel old by eight o'clock each night.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

My Senior Rhetoric Teacher, Wilma Lassiter, Would Have A Fit Over These Bullet Points

But it will have to do ‘cause that’s all I have time for. Turn your head, Wilma. You think my composition is bad, you should check out my calculus. Mrs. Beardsley rolls over in her grave every time I try to calculate impact based upon speed. But on a positive note, you’ll be thrilled to know I have found a career that utilizes my excessive talking skills. Anyhoo….

1. I should write a cookbook called “Ten Minute Meals”. The work/bible school schedule this week has me arriving home at 5pm, slapping dinner on the table at 5:10pm and heading out the door to the church at 5:15pm. Sunday we had leftover hot dogs from the church block party. Monday was tuna salad (made Sunday night) jammed into tomatoes, last night was crockpot soup and tonight my family declared we were ordering Chinese food. To which I said, “Hallelujah!”

2. Mama J. didn’t make it to her weekly beauty shop appointment Saturday because of some digestive issues, so she called Teen Angel to come down to the house to curl and set her hair tonight after VBS. TA wanted to know if I would help. I have had to do that before, and that falls into the category of Girlfriend is on her Own. There is a reason I don’t curl my own hair, and that’s because I’m worse at hair rolling than I am at calculus.

3. Papa T. tried on three pair of pants last Tuesday before he found a pair that would fit. He is rapidly outgrowing his britches because he can’t put down his fork. He finds it most distressing but not enough to refrain from trying to eat Mama J.’s donut when she wasn’t looking.

4. Teen Angel leaves Monday morning for a mission trip to Georgia. I haven’t begun to think about what to pack. I’m thinking of just leaving it up to her under the guise of teaching her to be independent. The control freak in me probably won’t let me do that, though.

5. There is a little boy at bible school who was Sissy’s favorite student when she helped with bible school a couple of years ago, before her mental illness spun out of control. When I look at him I want to smile and cry at the same time.

6. Sunday is my birthday, and I have been so busy I truly did not realize it until this past weekend. I told my family to give me money for my lens fund. Just $2200 to go! I should have that lens by 2017.

7. Come Sunday I will officially be closer to fifty than forty, and anybody who reminds me of that can kiss my arse. If anyone asks, I’m at least 38.

8. If the Coke man doesn’t fill up the machine at work with some Coke Zero soon, I’m gonna hunt him down and drag him into the office by knife point.

9. Watching the kids at VBS jump and run into the sanctuary at the end of the evening last night made me wish I could bottle their energy and huff it each night about eight o’clock. I would have a serious addiction if that were possible.

10. How is it, a child can run like the wind for a bowl of ice cream or dance six rounds with the family dog right up until bedtime but not find the energy to put a new roll of toilet paper on the hanger?

11. I do not have to work Friday. And let all the people say, “Amen”.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Some of my Bible School Friends

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: High Seas-Day 1
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Day 1-One potty accident, one ripped dress and lots of smiles. Oh, and a flamingo Silly Bandz for me, thanks to Lilly over at janjanmom!

Friday, July 9, 2010

On the High Seas

Great Googly Moogly! It’s one of my favorite times of the year. It’s vacation bible school time. All next week children of all ages will run amuck in the church, making clever crafts, singing off key and making all of us adults smile with their cute little antics. There’s always some kid who pees his pants, another who proclaims his dad’s in jail (or worse, the little boy who told Teen Angel all about his penis last year) and the little girl who wants to give you a hug every time she sees you.

The fun began for me today when I started decorating the church. A great group of folks is helping me to build a ship in the sanctuary, a dock in the choir room and lots of other “sea” themed stuff. For the past week I’ve been begging, borrowing, buying and dumpster diving for all kinds of things like cardboard tubes and rope to use in the transformation. By Monday morning we should have everything sea worthy and be ready for the kids. I’ll try to share a few pictures with you amid all the busy-ness of the week. Bring on the smiles and the hugs. I can’t wait!